Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lost Goths

Saw this just now and thought it was awesome so am sharing with everyone :)

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 317
Number in Series : #2 Goose Girl Series
Reason for Reading : Series II Challenge

The follow up to the wonderful The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale sees the return of many favourite characters from the first book in the series. Enna is now the main character and themain focus is on the fabled three gifts people were said to possess; people speaking, animal speaking and nature speaking. Her friend Isi is able to speak with some animals and the wind which she can bend to her will. It seems Enna's brother Leifer has somehow learnt to hear fire, but it is destrustive burning everything it touches including the speaker.

War suddenly descends on Bayern and it is up to Enna to decide if she too wants to learn fire speak. An augery tells her she will win the war using fire, but at what cost. It has consumed many others in the past and if she learns it will the same happen to her. Isi hears of a tribe in the desert who may be able to provide answers on how to control this gift and her own wind speaking, which is now becomming difficult for Isi to manage as well.

This is the story of Enna's journey, to find out who she really is and who she really loves. To discover the true power of friendship and sharing as well as grief and how to let go. I did really enjoy this tale, though it wasn't quite as good as The Goose Girl. Razo is one of my favourite characters and I liked reading his interplay with Finn and Enna. I was also glad that Isi remained central to the story whilst still giving Enna her time to shine. I look forward to reading River Secrets and completing the series soon.

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's that time of year again. Carl V at Stainless Steel Droppings is holding the RIP III Challenge which runs from September 1st until October 31st. The challenge is simple, read between 1 and 4 books (there are three parils to choose between) from the following subgenres:

Dark Fantasy
I have decided to opt for Peril the Second which means I am signing up to read at least 2 books during the challenge period. I am going to be a bit flexible in my reading and make a list of possible books I want to read and see what mood I am in during the time. I hope to read more than three but it just depends on work committments. Likewise if I see something else along the way that I like I will add it to the list.
  • Minion - LA Banks (Supernatural/Horror)
  • Scent to her grave - India Ink (Mystery)
  • Fool Moon - Jim Butcher (Supernatural/Mystery)
  • Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill (Horror)
  • Mona Lisa Awakening - Sunny (Dark Fantasy)
  • Claimed by Shadow - Karen Chance (Supernatural/Horror)
  • Never the Bride - Paul Magrs (Gothic)
  • Glass Houses - Rachel Caine (Supernatural)
  • Vampire Kisses - Ellen Schreiber (Supernatural)
All of the details can be found here and I can't wait to get started...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 436
Number in Series : #2 Camelot
Reason for Reading : Arthurian Challenge, I enjoyed Camelot's Shadow so much I was eager to read the next in the series

In this second installment in the series Gawain's younger brother Geraint takes centre stage as he battles alongside the Lady Elen. Elen survives her mother's brutal murder at the hands of Urien, the lover of Morgaine also known as Morgan le Fae, only to become trapped by them. Morgaine removes Elen's still beating heart which she places inside the breat of a hawk. However is master to the hawk is also Elen's master and she must obey their every command.

Her own magic is strong in her veins and she is able to have more freedom than Morgaine is aware of. With the help of Geraint she becomes her own master and they escape into the land of the Lord and Lady of the Fae. The only way to kill Urien who is protected by Morgaine's magic is to complete a quest for the Lord and Lady. They must find the Little King, Gwiffert pen Lleied, and obtain by honourable means the spear of Manawyddan. The spear has it's own magic and will fly true to the aimed at and then return to the throwers hand. After she has used it to kill Urien she must return it to the Fae.

Things are never simple as the Little King lives in a place filled with secrecy, sorcery, servants and many legends. The couple must keep their wits about them and distinguish the lies from the truths if they are to succeed and escape with their lives.

Filled with many myths and legends from Welsh mythology, I enjoyed this even more than Camelot's Shadow and can't wait to read the third in the series, Camelot's Sword. The story telling was carefully crafted and drew me in to their world completely. There were enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a story well told with well developed characters and plot.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This was held by Darla D and the challenge was to pick 8 books you have been inspired to read from reading the reviews of other bloggers. It ran between 1/5/08 and 1/9/08. The list of books I read is below along with the person and blog who first inspired me to pick up the book.

1. The Three Incestuous Sisters - Audrey Niffenegger (Nymeth Things Mean a Lot and Kim at Bold Blue Adventure)
2. Beauty - Robin McKinley (Nymeth Things Mean a Lot was the first review of this I read in 2007 but my post links to many other reviews since)
3. Transformations - Anne Sexton (Nymeth Things Mean a Lot pushed me over the edge to read this)
4. Zel - Donna Jo Napoli (Miss Erin's review was the first time I heard of this book and author througu the Twisted Fairy Tales challenge)
5. The Book of Ballads - Charles Vess (Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made On inspired me to read this one)
6. Uglies - Scott Westerfeld (Becky's Book Reviews was the first review of this series I read last year)
7. Messenger - Lois Lowry (Michelle at 3M)
8. The Complete Maus - Art Spiegelman (Nymeth Things Mean a Lot was the first of many reviews I read)

It's very difficult to pick my favourite as I read them all on glowing recommendations from bloggers I trust. I think they will all tie in equal first place to be honest! Thanks Darla this was a great challenge to host and I hope you run it again with perhaps slightly longer to read the novels.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 296
Reason for Reading : Irresistible Review Challenge, Graphic Novel Challenge, Book Awards Reading Challenge II, numerous recommendations

Art Spiegelman tells his fathers story as a Jew in Poland during the Second World War in comic book format. The Jews are drawn as mice, the Germans as cats, the American's as dogs and the Polish as pigs. This is a truely harrowing story with lots of cross roads and choices made along the way with Spiegelman showing what happened to the familes who chose the alternative along the way.

His mother and father against all the odds managed to survive the war as well as being POWs in Auschwitz seeing many of their friends and family die in the camps and by Germans along the way. They are dehumanised, starved, beaten and betrayed along the way. Sadly his mother later killed herself in 1968 after suffering for depression for many years (since before the war) and writing this brings on a bout of depression also for the author who includes sections from his life whilst writing this comic.

Art and his father have a very strained relationship and he is often conflicted with how to write about him. He wants to remain true to their relationship whilst not living up the to the Jewish sterotypes. This is shown very well in the panels below.

His father is also racist and anti-communist which Art struggles with after knowing what he lived through at Hitler's persecution. He can't understand how someone who has been on the recieving end of such abuse and violence can perpetuate the same against another. The main thing is though that he cannot image the horrors his mother and father lived through. It is one thing to have them described, but it can never be the same.

Defintely a tale that sticks in the readers mind. Very personal and filled with tragedy and sadness, it is difficult to remember at times that this is a story of courage and survival. That anyone Jewish in Poland and Germany managed to survivie the war is a miracle and I hope one that is never forgotten. This is essential reading.

Other Reviews:
Nymeth Things Mean a Lot
Kim L Bold Blue Adventure
Rebecca Reads
Thoughts of Joy I and II

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 209
Reason for Reading : Inklings Challenge

Put forward as a series of letters from Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood. Screwtape is the Under Secretary in Hell working for Our Father Below after being promoted due to never failing to claim his assigned souls. Wormwood is a new graduate from the Tempter's Training College for Young Devil's run by Slubgob and is out on his first assignment. The way thngs are set up in Hell is new graduates are sent after a particular soul, which when it is gained will feed the others. If they fail then they will become the food instead.

Screwtape's letters are full of advice for the young Wormwood on the best ways to tempt his soul. Workig in their favour is a background working with his mother plus the European War which Wormwood is excited about but Screwtape seems nonplussed about. Some of the advice follows getting his patient caught up in "the real world", pleasures of the flesh (and if he stays chaste at least marrying the kind of women they prefer), men's vanity and misusing prayer.

My copy also includes a chilling toast from Screwtape at the end to new graduates from the college. He talks of using Democracy to their advantage but also reminds them to go after one patient rather than just caring about the downfall of society as a whole. He also speaks of the vintages they are dining on and how they compare to past souls he has consumed.

This was a very well written satire with some excellent points. At one point it talks about how the demons control the fashion industry changing what look and body type are in. The aim is to keep in vogue unreasonable body images that no one can live up to but that men desire which is especially relevant today. They also talk about ministers and priests who can be used to sway belief their way due to their own fanatacisms. Interestingly it was addressed to his college friend JRR Tolkien.

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 488
Reason for Reading : Young Adult Reading Challenge

Jack and his best friend Charlie are 14 and dealing with the fact that Charlie's dad has just left his mum for another woman. Charlie is devestated and wonders if his father was ever really happy with him at home. This soon becomes the least of their problems when they become part of a secret Brotherhood whose goal is to reimprison The Scourge, a demon that was trapped in a tree until one of the Brotherhood released it. Only two of the Brotherhood are activaly left now. Esme, whose mother The Scourge killed, and her father Raymond. She is a martial arts expert who has spent her whole life training to defeat The Scourge and Raymond is a sword maker.

Despite their best efforts The Scourge is able to find a new living host and open the Fracture, the gateway to hell. The three teenagers must follow him and defeat him before he can put his final plan into operation. His goal is to wake The Dragon which will unmake existence and cause their universe to cease to exist and become the Void again. Jack and Esme become gladiatiors and meet a selection of demons living in Hell. Jack befriend his Chinj (a bat like creature) who feeds him his pink vomit and helps him out in a tight spot. Charlie has his own problems to deal with deciding if he wants to stay in Hell and never go back to see his family again.

A quote on the back says "Philip Pullman meets Darran Shan" and this is probably the best way to sum up the story. You have conversations with God and the ruler of Hell, an interesting theological conversation at the very end as well as the horror and gore of Darren Shan novels. A fun read, I definitely enjoyed it and would read more by this author in the future.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 240
Number in Series : #4 Fables
Reason for Reading : Graphic Novel Challenge and to continue this excellent series

Continuing straight after volume three, Storybook Love, the prologue opens with Boy Blue's story. So far he hasn't been in the series much, merely working for the Major and Snow White. Here we learn about the Fables last stand in their homelands against the Adversary and how the final survirors escaped. Turns out however, that the Fables are not safe from the Adversary in the mundane world. Despite living secretly in New York for centuries, agents from the Adversary finally appear asking them to surrender.

Meanwhile Red Riding Hood manages to escape from the Adversary for the second time and actually crosses over to the mundane world. It has been many years since anyone last crossed over and Bigby Wolf is naturally suspicious. She wants to join their community and learn about their new lives, but Bibgy and some other Fables are determined to find out if she is a spy first.

Other plot twists include Snow still being pregnant and beginning to come to terms with her real feelings, Prince Charming begins his campaign to become the new Major, Pinnochio discovers his father Gepetto may still be alive after all this time working as a slave for the Adversary and Rose Red and some of the Fables from the farm visit for the showdown with the enemy soldiers. There are some casulties like in any war, but there are also some great new additions to the ever expanding cast.

A great addition to the series, this won an Eisner Award for Best Serialized Story (Legends in Exile and Homelands also did). The artwork is up to the standards of the previous in the series and I really enjoyed how the story was advanced. I can't wait to read the next volume, The Mean Seasons.

Other Reviews :
Nymeth Things Mean a Lot
Everyday Reads

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bite - Various

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 297
Reason for Reading : Short Story Reading Challenge

A collection of short stories by some of the hottest vampire authors around. Most of them have some very steamy sex scenes and a lot of action.

The Girl who was Infatuated with Death - Laurell K Hamilton
An Anita Blake story set between Blue Moon and Obsidian Butterfly. Anita is called in to investigate a case of a 17 year old girl whose mother finds two vampire bite marks at the top of her inner thighs. In this world vampires are citizens but it is illegal to turn someone under 18 which takes 3 bites. The twist is the girl has bone cancer and becomming a vampire will save her from a leg amputation. Anita goes to see her vampire "friend" Jean Claude and gets sidetracked by his sexiness.

One Word Answer - Charlaine Harris
A tale of Sookie Stackhouse. One night a strange black limo turns up with a strange supernatural man inside. He tells her that her cousin was turned into a vampire and then killed in a cemetary in New Orleans trying to raise the Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. The plot twists as it emerges who the real killer was.

Biting in Plain Sight - MaryJanice Davidson
De Sophie Tourneau is a vet and a vampire and seems accepted by the twosnfolk of Embarrass, Minnesota. One man in particular, Liam, has accepted her and has been secretly in love with her for years. He decides to finally tell her as a vampire is causing young girls to seeminly kill themselves. The enlist the help of Queen Betsy on their quest to track him down and kill him.

Galahad - Angela Knight
A mixture of Arthurian and Grail legends with vampires, dragons, witches and hot hot sex! Some very silly ideas, but the sex scenes were amazinginly hot.

Blood Lust - Vickie Taylor
Daniel Hart is a microbiologist who has created synthetic blood when a vampire comes along and steals his research, home, woman and car. He tracks down another vampire, Deadre Rue, to turn him so it can be a fair fight. A few twists along the way.

I loved Galahad but more for the sex than the mythology. I also really enjoyed Blood Lust and Biting in Plain Sight. The Girl who was Infatuated with Death was my least favourite. It had a really good premise, but Hamilton seemed to forget it once Anita met up with Jean Claude sadly.

Other Reviews:

Bobbi's Book Nook

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 169
Number in Series : #3
Reason for Reading : Irresitible Review Challenge and to complete the series

Completing the series of books by Lois Lowry connecting other worlds. The first was The Giver and the second was Gathering Blue and both seemed unconnected at the time of reading. This third novel brings the main characters together from the first two books and shows nicely what happened next in their lives.

Matty now lives in Villiage after leaving where he was brought up. He is waiting to be granted his true name from Leader and hope to become Messenger. He is the only one who seems accepted by Forest which lets him travel freely to ther places and deliver messages on behalf of Leader. Others have been known to be entangled and killed by Forest who always provides warnings like stabbing branches. Matty lives with Seer who is blind but has a great understanding of the world around him.

Things in Villiage have been slowly changing. Those who were once wise and kind have been attending the Trade Meet and are slowly changing. They want to put forward a petition that will stop all new comers from entering and joining Villiage which has become a haven for those cast or or mistreated by their own people. Matty must travel through Forest a final time to post notices and to bring back Seer's daughter who promised she would one day join him. Forest itself also seems to be changing, becoming darker and changing it's paths. Matty must save his secret gift to use when the time is right if he is to save them all.

This was a beautiful and sad conclusion to the series. A quick read but one that stays with you long after you finish the last page.

Other reivews :
3M - I was inspired to pick up this series and this book by her Book Awards Reading Challenge and personal blog

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

You are The High Priestess

Science, Wisdom, Knowledge, Education.

The High Priestess is the card of knowledge, instinctual, supernatural, secret knowledge. She holds scrolls of arcane information that she might, or might not reveal to you. The moon crown on her head as well as the crescent by her foot indicates her willingness to illuminate what you otherwise might not see, reveal the secrets you need to know. The High Priestess is also associated with the moon however and can also indicate change or fluxuation, particularily when it comes to your moods.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

I usually get her or The Hermit and I think it is a good description of me.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 350
Reason for Reading : Non-Fiction Five Challenge, I am a massive fan of Tori Amos and can't believe I put off reading this for so long...

Piece by Piece is the autobiography of singer/songwriter Tori Amos (born Myra Ellen Amos) and is subtitles "A portrait of the artist. Her thoughts. Her conversations." And it really is. A wonderful insight into Tori Amos as a musician, a mother, a lioness and a spiritual follower of her own path. Separated into conversations between Tori and Ann, Tori's own observations adn writings, Ann's comments, passages from interviews with those close to Tori including her husband and song canvases, I couldn't put this down from the first sentence.

There are eight main chapters names after goddesses or archetypes (Tori is a fan of mythology expert Joseph Campbell and psychologist Carl Gustav Jung) wich cover Tori's opinions and experiences including motherhood, her image, the trouble she had with her first record comapny (Atlantic Records), her failed project Y Kant Tori Read, three devestating miscarriages, her relationship with christianity and the two Mary's (the Mother and the Magdalene). From her Cherokee grandfather Tori has found her love of spirituality rather than a dogmatic religion and performs ceremonies before going on stage with her close friends, family and crew (pretty much all the same thing). The tale she weaves is intelligent referencing many mythologies and folktales whilst being intimatly personal when she speaks of her daughter and failed pregnancies. Weaving stories behind her songs and what they mean to her amid the narrative, it really feels like you are talking to Tori and she is present in the room with you.

It gives an amazing insight into her creative process. This includes how she writes her songs (song Beings), gets her inspiration from basically everywhere and everyone around her, pieces sections of fragments of music and lyrics together and pieces together her image. It was written just before The Beekeeper was released and it was interesting to read of the symbolism of the bee and the six sides to Tori. This is simply a MUST for all fans of her music and what she stands for.

A little about my journey with Tori so far. I first heard Cornflake Girl when it was in the charts and then promptly forgot about her. The same with Professional Widow (the remix). It wasn't until I was around 15 that I went to an unconventional party that I really discovered her music on a deeper level. The party was the first birthday party for STEPS. STEPS was a group in Liverpool for woman who self harm and it was the first time I had plucked up the courage to attend one of their meetings. There I met some great people and started the long road to not being ashamed of my ways of coping. At the party one lady did a modern dance interpretation to Tori's song "Hotel" from the album "From the Choirgirl Hotel" and it still is my favourite of her songs. It was so poignant with the ending "I'm still alive" repeated and I adore it when she plays it live. I have seen her live four times now and the third time I was lucky enough to be one of 200 people at an intimate gig in a theatre in London where she was interviewed by Ann Powers for part of this book. They sat on stage and chatted with Tori playing two sets of four songs inbetween. Amazing.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 307
Reason for Reading : Library Book Discussion Group

Purple Hibiscus (by the author of Half a Yellow Sun) was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and won the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Kambili is 15 and lives in Nigeria with her older brother Jaja, mother and father. Her father is one of the Big Men who owns a series of factories, has a lot of money and is very generous with his wealth and power making him very well respected within the community. He is a strong follow of christianity and leads many in prayer and correct living.

At home things are not quite as they seem. He is fanatical in his belief and expects perfection from his family. If they fail to live up to his unrealistic expectations, he turns to violence "for their own good". This includes his wife who whilst pregnant wishes to stay in the car and not visitn an important man as she is feeling nauseous. Sadly she looses her baby and ever sadder this does not stop the beatings in the future for her or her children.

All of the lives change when Kimbili and Jaja spend time with their free thinking Aunt Ifeoma and their cousins. There they are encouraged to think for themselves rather than spend their lives mindlessly following schedules and srtiving to always be top of their classes, they learn respect and how to lead a family as well as discover friendship and love. Kimbili is a shy teenager who stutters and only says what she believes will make her father hapy. Over time she emerges from her protective shell and develops a personality, questioning once accepted ways of thought and deed.

It took a little to get into this novel, but I really enjoyed it once I did. Their father makes an interesting character. On one hand he is a hero to his viliage supporting many charaties and peoples school fees, but on the other hand turning into a monster when his family fail to live up to his high standards. The story telling is very evocotive and really puts you inside living in Nigeria. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters, especially her grandfather and aunt.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 754
Number in Series : #4 Twilight Series
Reason for Reading : For the sheer fun of reading it!

The concluding part in the Twilight series. The story picks up just after Eclipse ends, Edward has asked Bella to marry him on the condition he will consent to turning her into a vampire. Her further stipulation is that they have their honeymoon while she is still mortal with a traditional wedding night. The problem with this idea is Edward's superhuman strength. It takes him a lot of effort to control his vampire urges, desires and strengths and during sex that it likely to be particularly difficult and life threatening to Bella.

There is also the question of the other "man" in her life, werewolf Jacob Black. They have a close connection and Bella has frequently been torn between Edward and Jacob. At the close of Eclipse she has chosen Edward, but who knows what new twists will occur in this final novel. Another complication is that if Bella is turned into a vampire she will never be able to see her family again as she can't tell anyone about vampires. The whole acceleration of her desire to transform into a vampire is because of the vampire counsel, the Volturi, who uphold all vampire laws which include that mortals cannot know of Bella's existence and her knowledge of their kind. She is a threat that must be stopped and the only way to keep her alive is to turn her into an immortal.

The book spends some time focusing on another of the vampire laws, which I won't go into here for fear of spoiling the story for anyone after weaving together Bella and Jacobs stories. The regular characters are all back for the finale as well as various new immortals (both werewolf and vampire as well as some compeltely new). The relationships are the main focus again, but without the whiney overtones from the previous two in the series.

I completely loved this book. It captured my interest from the beginning and held it all the way through despite it's length. Many twists and turns, this seemed written more for older readers. There is still no bad language, but there is a lot more implied violence in places that could be quite disturbing for younger people. I thought though that it was a fitting conclusion to the series and it was left open enough to do a spin off series or continue it futher down the line.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 425
Number in Series : #1 Uglies
Reason for Reading : End of the World Challenge, Irresitible Review Challenge, numerous recommendations since I started blogging

Tally Youngblood is just a few months away from turning 16 and starting her new life as a Pretty. Pretties not only get to be super model gorgeous but also get to have all the fun, live in the best housing and go to all the best parties. Her best friend Peris has already been changed and Tally is the last of her group left. One night she meets Shay, another Ugly, who it turns out shares the same birthday as her. Shay however isn't looking forward to the operation that changes you, that shaves your bones down, gives you life long laser eye surgery as well as implants under the iris changing the colour, sucks out your fat or fills you out of you are too thin, that puts plastic implants in your cheeks and other changes. Shay wants to run away and take Tally with her.

Shay keeps her promise and runs away leaving a coded series of instructions for Tally to follow if she changes her mind. On her birthday Tally goes for her operation, but is taken to one side by the much discussed but rarely seen Specials and given a choice. She is told to either infiltrate the rebel camp where Shay is (the Specials do not understand Shay's code) and turn them in or they will never make her into a Pretty and reunite her with her best friend.

Along the way more about the Pretties and the operation is revealed which shows it is not just an operation that causes physical changes but mental and behavioural ones as well. The story of how the world became this utopian/dystopian society came about also slowly unfolds. It ends on a big cliff hanger leading nicely into the second in the series, Pretties, which I am definitely looking forward to.

I really enjoyed this first installment in the Ugly series. Lots of twists and turns, interesting ideas and a fun main character. Tally slowly learns that Uglies are just regular people and slowly changes her mind about becomming a Pretty and what true beauty is. I can't wait for book two!

Other Reviews (let me know if you have read and reviewed it and I will link to yours too):
Becky's Book Reviews - the review that inspired me initially to pick up this series
Words by Annie
The Opinioned Reader

Friday, August 01, 2008

July Summary

My reading has slightly increased this month and I am still just about on top of all my challenges...

Number of Books Read July : 13, Total 110
Number of Pages Read : 3632, Total 34,390

Young Adult Challenge : 8/12
Challenge with Nymeth : 3/5
What's in a Name Challenge : 4/6
Graphic Novel Challenge : 6/10 plus 3 extras
TBR Challenge 2008 : 4/12 and 9/12 alternatives
First in a Series Challenge : 9/12
Man Booker Prize Challenge : 6/8
Short Story Reading Challenge : 7/10
Chunkster Challenge : 3/4
Mythopoeic Challenge : 6/7
Inklings Challenge : 2/4
A~Z Challenge : Titles = 23/26, Authors = 20/26
Guardian 100 Greatest Books of All Time : 29/100 (aiming for 50)
Arthurian Reading Challenge : 1/12
tl;dr Challenge : 1/3
Series Challenge II : 3/8
Non-Fiction Five Challenge : 2/5 plus 0/1 alternatives
End of the World Challenge : 1/3 plus 0/1 alternatives
Classics Challenge 08 : 0/5
Irresitible Review Challenge : 4/8

101 Things to do in 1001 Days : 36/101

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 438
Number in Series : #1 King Raven
Reason for Reading : TBR Challenge 08, First in a Series Challenge

A look at the legend of Robin Hood but set in Wales with Robin renamed Bran ap Brychan. The story takes place around AD 1093 when William the Red is King of England (the son of William the Conquerer from Normandy). Bran's father, the King of Elfael, and his warband are murdered by Norman soldiers (the Ffreinc) and his lands taken over by William de Braose who sets his nephew Count Falkes de Braose in charge of Elfael. Bran is the rightful heir and goes to Lundein to try to win back his land. There he is charged with raising 200 silver pieces, an almost impossible sum, to get back land thatis rightfully his.

On returning to Elfael Bran and his two companions are stopped by the Ffreinc and Bran is captured. Count Falkes releases him to fetch his own ransom and when he fails to reappear sends soldiers and knights to kill him. Thinking him dead they return without his body to the Count without knowing that he is still alive (barely). An old woman finds him and nurses him back to health and he begins to bring together the people who escaped the Ffreinc and are living in the surrounding woodland. Bran hopes to steal the 200 pieces of silver, reclaim his land and drive away the Ffreinc once and for all.

We meet well known characters like Little John, Friar Tuck, Merian and Guy of Gisbourne. Welsh mythology and tales of Bran from the Mabinogian are woven into the tale and the villians also include the Baron de Neufmarche (another Norman). At the end of the tale is a section on why Lawhead chose to set the tale in Wales which made for very interesting reading and he argues a strong case. A great tale with the usual ingredients of love, deceit, battle, magic and the struggle of the poor to drive out the invading force. I will definitely be reading the sequel Scarlet and am waiting for book three Tuck to be released.

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 128
Number in Series : #1 Jack of Fables
Reason for Reading : A-Z Reading Challenge, to read more from the Fables world

A spin-off comic series from Fables by the same author. This follows Jack of many names (Jack Horner, Jack B Nimble, Jack the Giant Killer, Jack of the Tales and John Trick) after he has been forced out of Fableland and told never to return. The collection of the first 5 comics opens with Jack hitch hiking and being kidnapped and taken to the Golden Boughs Retirement Community. There live an assortment of Fables guarded by the mysterious bagmen, tigers and other traps waiting to be forgotten by the mundanes.

Overseeing the community is Mr Revise who seems to have special powers in locating Fables. Underneath him inthe operation is Priscilla Page (Retrievals), Robin Page (Security) and Hillary Page (Research). Of course Jack isn't too happy about being kidnapped and held against his will and sets about uniting the Fables and organising a mass breakout. What he doesn't know is that one of the Fables is working undercover for Revise.

A really fun tale, Jack makes a great central character. Some familiar faces from previous Fables comics turn up and some others from half remembered stories. The cover has great artwork with Jakc sporting a t shirt that says "Ensemble books are for losers" and a Fable in the background holding up a sign that says "How dare you get your own series". Classic. I can't wait to read what happens next in the next collection Jack of Hearts.